This was the headline of the New York Times on Sunday, 3rd April 2011- morning after India won the Cricket World Cup.
No, no…wait…don’t exile me from my country just yet! I am
happy, excited (?), glad, India won the World Cup. I watched the match, I cheered, I constantly calculated asking run rates in my head, held my breath…the whole deal.
It was after the match, walking home, that I got disillusioned. There were not less than a 1000 people gathered at Lokhandwala circle, with symphony bands (the ones that play for baraats!), dancing, bursting fire crackers, riding on car roofs, 4 people to a bike, flaring Indian flags in the air.
Were they happy? I guess, we would first have to agree on the definition of “happiness“. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “lasting contentment.” This was not going to last! Tomorrow they would be hanging in crowded trains fighting out life again, the children would go to schools without teachers and books, some patients would die in hospitals because they couldn’t afford medicines. Contentment? Hell no…this was excitement perhaps, thrill, an adrenalin surge, but not happiness.
Winning the World Cup was not solving any of India’s problems, or the problems of these people dancing on the streets. And I wonder if they would be celebrating like this if any of their problems really got solved. The day the government started giving ART and DOTS for free in hospitals, were there people bursting crackers? The day the LGBT community stopped being marginalised legally did people fly the Indian flag? The day Kranti ended trafficking of 7 year old girls into the sex trade would a thousand people gather at Lokhandwala circle to congratulate us?
No. Because that’s not what the superstructure of education, media and socialisation has taught them. Our grandparents taught their children wrong. Which is why our parents, we, are dancing for all the wrong reasons. Let’s at least teach our children right. So they know India’s problems and try solving them, rather than distracting themselves with momentary distractions, like a mindless comedy movie or a winning the World Cup.
It makes me sick to think of the amount of money India has spent to make our team win the World Cup. The most expensive ticket to the Wankhede stadium was sold for Rs. 1.2 Crores! The BCCI is giving each player Rs. 1 Crore. Someone’s giving them an Audi, the government of Karnataka is giving them 4 acres of land each. 100s of Crores of rupees, which should be used to build health infrastructure, give electricity and running water to villages, subsidize rates of food grains, going to 15 men in a country of 1.2 billion.
Why? Because it is so much easier for the government to dole out this money to our cricket players and distract Indians from all our real problems, and so much harder to actually make policies and programs and implement them to actually develop the country and solve the real problems of people.
It’s no longer religion. Cricket is the new opium of the Indian masses.